- Freedom from slavery or forced labour — Human rights remedies — Arms control — Disarmament
This introductory chapter explores the history and development of arms trade treaties. The UN Disarmament Commission views arms transfers as a deeply entrenched phenomenon of contemporary international relations. Traditionally, the issue was linked largely to the issue of neutrality during time of war. Prior to recognition of conflicting parties as belligerents, ‘transfer of arms to opposition groups was an unfriendly act that could lead to war, while transfer of arms to governments was not’. The first international instrument to regulate the arms trade in the modern era was actually a treaty about slavery: the 1890 Brussels General Act, which intended to put an end to the crimes engendered by the traffic in African slaves. The chapter also turns to the global context by briefly discussing the ATT, the first global treaty governing arms transfers.
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